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Thursday, January 1, 2009

World Premiere: Opera Version of Stein's The Making of Americans

[An interview about the opera with poet Greg Hewett can be accessed by clicking on the title of this entry.]

On December 12 at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, literary and music folk were treated to an insightful and moving world premiere opera based on Gertrude Stein's mammoth novel,The Making of Americans. (I am presently trying to find out if this opera will be traveling to other locations. As of yet, nobody has returned by requests for information. I will inform you when I receive more information.) The Walker's promotional materials read as follows:

"Gertrude Stein's groundbreaking "cubist" novel, The Making of Americans, is the launching pad for this innovative, media-rich chamber opera. Celebrated Boston-based experimental theater director Jay Scheib, Brooklyn-based composer Anthony Gatto, local new-music stalwarts Zeitgeist, and upstart New York string quartet JACK conspire to reimagine Stein's groundbreaking history of all humanity. This ambitious collaboration unfolds in front of sets and machines designed by Minneapolis artist Chris Larson.

In the work's three-dimensional staging, storms fill the sky, shingles are ripped from the roof, and a tree is torn from the ground, its roots pointing upward. In addition to percussion, strings, keyboards, live chorus, and six principal singer/actors (including local favorites Bradley Greenwald and David Echelard as well as the Builder's Association's Tanya Selvaratnam), the unusual high-energy instrumentation invokes sounds of accordions, autoharps, hurdy-gurdies, and church bells."

I interviewed poet and Carleton College English professor Greg Hewett, a devotee of both opera and Stein, about the performance. The interview begins with Greg talking about himself a little bit, so there is no need to be redundant. It appears on my web page, Experimental Writing / Explorative Music, and can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

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